Nocellara del Belice (Belice olive)
The municipalities of Castelvetrano, Campobello di Mazara e Paltana, in the Sicilian province of Trapani.
Olive cultivation in the Belice Valley has a very long tradition, especially table olives: in fact, this crop was able to establish itself almost spontaneously, due both to the ideal environmental characteristics, and the valuable product requirements of the only cultivar represented in such a preponderant manner. The first documents which describe the presence of olive trees in the Belice Valley date back to the times of the Greek Selinunte colonisation, in the VII century B.C. Since the XIX century, the Nocellara del Belice variety has established itself as both a table olive and as the raw material for the production of olive oil.
METHOD OF PRODUCTION:
The olives are handpicked by gently “stripping” the fruit from the trees, generally between October and November. The use of substances to accelerate the ripening of the olives is not permitted. The fruit are transported in net or lattice-work crates, where the fruit are placed in layers of no more than 20 cm. The processing stages are started within 24 hours from harvesting. There are three different processing systems for the green olives and two for the black olives. For the green olives the Sivigliano System (immersion in sodium hydroxide, washing and lactic acid fermentation), with the use of natural iridescent (for “au natural” brine is used); or the Castelvetrano System (immersion in sodium hydroxide, the addition of ground salt and washing). Through these two systems, the de-bittered olives can be transformed into the following typologies: Whole in Brine, Crushed, De-stoned in Brine, Sliced and Seasoned. The black olives can be treated with or without alkaline, those not treated can, through further processing, be transformed into the following typologies: Brine au Natural, Vinegar Brine, Dry Salted or Baked. In the case of olives treated with alkaline, either the Californian system or dry salting is permitted.
The pedoclimatic and environmental conditions of the Belice Valley, are typical of the Mediterranean climate, characterised by mild winters and hot summers, with semi-arid or even arid years, which influence the characteristics of the Nocellara del Belice, enhancing the aptitude of this cultivar, present in the mentioned zones of western Sicily, for the production of table olives.
DOP Nocellara del Belice should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from heat sources or direct light. It is usually eaten as a delicious accompaniment to an aperitif, although it is also excellent with cheese, salami and traditional local vegetables in oil. It can also be used as an ingredient in typical Sicilian dishes, above all, the famous caponata, made with olives, aubergines, onions, tomatoes, capers and celery.
Reference: The European Commission